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North Cascades Highlights

A long time favorite trip that’s full of mountain adventure sports in the “American Alps” with inspiring panoramic views!


Jul 03 - Jul 14, 2023


12-14 (enter 7th-9th)


$3345 (airfare not incl.)




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  • Camp in Washington state
  • Sea Kayaking San Juans
  • Backpack N. Cascades Natl' Park
  • Rock Climbing Goat Wall
  • Horseback Riding Winthrop, WA
  • Swim in lakes, rivers, streams
  • Rafting the Sauk River
  • Explore Bellingham, WA
This trip arrives and departs from Seattle, WA

Kaley really bonded with the other girls - the comradery was the best for her. For us, she participated in a wilderness experience that was totally positive. She is calmer and more focused. Kaley experienced the wonders of mountains and wilderness areas, learned some valuable...

~ Lucy (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Trip Description

A Summer Adventure Camp in Northwest Washington for Teens 

The Washington Cascades are one of the most varied and majestic mountain ranges in the United States. Home to Mount Baker, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and plenty of other famous “must-climbs," Alpengirls will get the chance to experience exactly what this world-class outdoor playground has to offer.

Combining expeditions on both land and sea, girls will really become familiar with the flow of being away from traditional campgrounds at this Washington state summer camp. Each camper will experience true nature immersion, while having the time of their life and finding their inner adventuress!

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Arriving at SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, your Alpenguides will greet you and introduce you to the rest of your camp group. Icebreakers, name games, and get-to-know-you fun abounds before you and your new expedition mates hop in the van and drive to our first campsite. 

Once we arrive, we'll learn how to set up our tents and enjoy the first of many delicious and fresh camp meals before settling into our tents for the night. 

Day 2: Waking up refreshed and renewed, you will grab your sleeping pad, head outside to a nearby clearing, and set up for your first daily morning yoga session. After a strong morning stretch, we’ll fill our bellies with a nutritious Alpengirl breakfast - perhaps blueberry pancakes served with turkey bacon (YUM!)

After learning the basics of camping, we’ll pull on our swimsuits and get ready for a rip-roarin’ whitewater rafting adventure! We’ll meet our rafting guides and set out for an afternoon of whitewater rafting along the Sauk River - a designated Wild & Scenic River. This raft trip includes some gnarly rapids like Hole-in-One and Alligator Drop!  

Days 3-8: It’s finally time to get out on the trail! After your Alpenguides give you a thorough tutorial about how to properly pack only the essentials, adjust and carry your backpack, we’ll jump in the van and drive to the trailhead to start our 20-mile roundtrip trekking expedition.

Our six-day, five-night backpacking trip in North Cascades National Park follows a relatively level shoreline trail that skirts the curves of turquoise-colored Ross Lake. We'll start out on the Ruby Arm of Ross Lake, and camp at several lakeside sites, stopping to swim along the way. We'll stay fresh and clean on our expedition by having an Alpenolympic Bucket Hair Washing competition, entertain each other with trail games and songs, and watch for birds and wildlife on the lake.

On our second to last day of backpacking, we have the opportunity to leave most of our stuff behind in camp and hike to the top of Desolation Peak. The treeless summit offers stunning 360˚ views of the surrounding peaks, rivers, and lakes in this dramatic, heavily glaciated landscape. With clear skies, we can see all the day south to the crags of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. This day hike adds 14 miles to our trip total, and we'll be certain to celebrate our hard work!

On our final day of backpacking, we'll jump into a boat taxi that will shuttle us back down the length of Ross Lake to within a short hike of our van. Tonight at our campsite in Winthrop, WA we'll freshen up with showers and laundry.

Day 9: Rise and shine, Alpengirls! Waking up to a mellow yoga session will prepare us for a full day of rock climbing. We'll meet our rock climbing guides in Mazama, WA where they'll harness us up and teach us the ways of the rock. We'll learn proper climbing and belaying technique, and maybe have the chance to rappel down a tall rock wall. Even the girl who has never been on a wall before will get to call herself a climber at the day’s end.

Tonight we may enjoy a meal cooked over the campfire, including our favorite Alpentreat - s’mores! Pull out your costumes and warm up your singing voice, because the Alpenolympic Talent Show event may take place this evening around the campfire.

Day 10: Today we’ll  enjoy a big hearty breakfast, pull on our boots, pack our day packs and prepare for a western trail horseback ride in the mountains, a highlight for many Alpengirls.

Let’s swim! Making our way back towards the WA coast, we'll stop en route for a swim at a local swimming hole or lake and girls who are up for some competition and challenge will get the chance to test their creativity skills with some of our favorite Alpenolympic games, like Whale Breaching and Water Ballet.

Day 11: We'll have a quick sea kayak paddling lesson this morning with our professional guides, then set off for a Nature Conservancy protected island in the San Juan archipelago. We’ll eat a delicious lunch on the island, then explore and learn about wild harvesting, tide pools, and the ocean environment. We might catch a glimpse of eagles, otters, or seals with pups!  

Then, a shower will perk us up as we get ready for seeing a bit of downtown Bellingham, WA and enjoying a stop at the local ice cream shop. Tonight, we’ll exchange email addresses and phone numbers and have our traditional end of session pizza party and awards ceremony.

Day 12: It’s time to go home! Exchanging hugs with your friends, you’ll depart from SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, knowing that you’ve had a ton of fun and accomplished great things as an Alpengirl and will be a part of our fantastic community for life. See you next summer!

PLEASE NOTE: Alpengirl reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of a program before or during a program, including program itinerary, activities or location for reason including but not limited to weather, environment, logistics or health hazards. If itinerary changes occur, we will substitute comparable alternatives, if possible. If there are significant itinerary changes, parent will be notified by email.

Trip Campsites & Amenities

Six nights are spent in tents in public “front country” campgrounds where we have pre-assigned campsites with neighbors and campground hosts nearby, running potable water, and private outhouses or flushing toilets.

Five nights are spent in tents in wilderness “back country” areas where we will purify our water before drinking and learn and practice basic Leave No Trace camping skills such as how to select a campsite, how to go to the bathroom, and keep clean outdoors. ALL backcountry campsites in this itinerary have an outhouse available to us.

Why Choose This Trip

The North Cascades Adventure is for campers who are excited to get out of their comfort zone a bit and have some real adventures in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the United States. 

With a longer backpacking trip than most Alpengirl Camps and little daily elevation gain, this camp is perfect for campers who love nature and hiking and want to attempt a peak summit of one of the highest altitudes we reach in our camps. Add on the gorgeous views, refreshing swims in mountain lakes, and the mellow pace, you can’t go wrong with this session. Limited to 10 campers in the group.